Daily News Archive
Nations Panel Approves Bush Administration Exemptions to Ozone Layer
In a report released over the weekend, the panel recommended a number of exemptions for the United States and a dozen much smaller countries. The largest were for American tomato and strawberry growers, who together are seeking to continue using more than 5,000 tons of methyl bromide a year. Other exemptions were for golf courses, flower growers and honey producers.
The panel said it had recommended many of the exemptions with reservations, in the absence of hard data on possible substitutes. It said alternative chemicals were already being used on these crops elsewhere and wrote that it "could not determine why some of these alternatives were not feasible."
Methyl bromide is an ozone depleter 50 times stronger than now-banned CFCs. Its uses include grapes, strawberries, tomatoes, grain storage, and structural pest control, primarily in California and Florida. It has been found to cause birth defects and brain damage in laboratory animals. Air sampling has found methyl bromide levels well exceeding state safety guidelines in California nearby neighborhoods and schools and has caused thousands of poisons in California alone.
In 1998, the Clinton Administration and Congress approved a rollback of the methyl bromide phase out date from 2001 to 2005 for the U.S. The methyl bromide ban, scheduled for 2001 under the Clean Air Act, was delayed four more years by language by Rep. Vic Faxio (D-CA) in a last minute anti-environmental rider attached to the Fiscal Year 1999 agricultural appropriations bills.